Thursday, May 25, 2023


A small staircase makes an inexplicable obstacle

to a hall that hasn’t enough light


There are suitcases to be searched

for things to discard before we depart


In the kitchen food scraps wait to be thrown out

while all this time the sun has been letting us down


And a vehicle’s missing making us wonder

how we’ll get away from this damned mansion


I could understand why you were so inconsolable then

Wasn’t frustration the meaning of our job there?


But a young man appeared to say I’d frightened him

and led me down to another overgrown path


Trials like his aren’t wordy or argumentative

but nothing got done without noises and scratches


They tell me this labour of ours lasts only so long

and release promises return to mother




Friday, January 13, 2023

Machiavelli’s muse


Thankful for as much warmth as darknesses afford

they sit between flickering hearth and stone walls


as the lady darns

Outside snow flurries sing


how you are hostages here

They slowly repair their knowledge


of the agonies and strife

joys and communion


as events they may stitch together from

voices in the streets or sightings of departing horses


Enclosed as a bottled essence

each darkness would be equal


were it not for such tales

informed by rags and veils






Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A lesson on College Hill

Learn about what a body can do
what cannot be put to paper or to flame
and when to empty the mind like a bin

When full daylight barely lights the Way
there are too many objects
strewn like tumbledown boxes
hovering liquids
talking books

So light
light thing
talk me through
and lighten my way

When all possibilities
will have been
realised and
half forgotten

and only then
may the universe sigh
and once again contract


Sunday, January 05, 2014

The north wind is high

The north wind is high and warm
fetching a sweet scent

with the first signs of
long and heavy rain

A man I spy engaged in
the simple acts of folding laundry

is a folder of illusions
and a rearrangement of feeling

The brute fact of love
echoed through the windows

open to the morning’s warmth
The sparrows squabble on the pavement below


Saturday, August 10, 2013

At Sea

Worse things
on the swell and surge

have fallen to
our sorry imaginations

so we could sail over the lines
of everyone’s expectations

Deduct God from the equation
and it’s just you riding and taking on water

the sum and the remainder
of deeds that flowed on down

                             Grant Duncan 16.5.13

Friday, May 10, 2013


Strewn before us
was evidence of a kind

you wouldn’t wish to see
lying about

for young historians
of the future to find

Apparently hidden
but willing to be revealed

in those texts
you dog-eared eagerly

as a student
and vandalised

with note after note
in ballpoint pen

telling of your dates
and their times places and names

and memories of what
the sky was like that day

knowledge too cold
to be used

against you now
old man

                 Grant Duncan 24.4.13

Friday, April 05, 2013

A grammar à propos of nothing

About us
This line tells you
what we want you to know

about this line of business
the business of which
is the mind alone

and it tells how things rest
in a jumbled order
like the pronunciation of English

But further it speaks of
resounding words
presented on behalf of

revenants and figments
of disorderly souls
Announcing our distinction from the rest

we wish you to understand
that poems are but dreams
riddled with words

                                         Grant Duncan 19.1.04